Amicus Briefs filed in Texas v. Bernhardt [ICWA]

All briefs are here.

Intervening Tribes Press Release (released before the Tribal brief with over 400 tribal signatories):

Majority of U.S. States, 75 Members of Congress and more than 30 Organizations File Amicus Briefs in Support of Native American Families and Children

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, 26 states and the District of Columbia, 75 members of Congress and more than 30 organizations filed friend-of-the-court briefs before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in Brackeen v. Bernhardt. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr., Morongo Band of Mission Indians Chairman Robert Martin, Oneida Nation Chairman Tehassi Hill and Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp issued the following statement regarding the amicus briefs:

“We are thrilled to see that more than half of all states across the country, 75 members of Congress and dozens of leading organizations are taking a stand for the best interests of Indian children and families. This continuous support from across the political spectrum is a testament to the critical role that ICWA plays in promoting the stability and security of Indian tribes and families. Together, we are fighting back against the meritless attacks on ICWA. We are confident that the Fifth Circuit will again stand on the side of families and children by upholding the law.”

The Cherokee Nation, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Oneida Nation and Quinault Nation are co-defendants in the case, defending the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) against unwarranted attacks on the law’s constitutionality.

For more than 40 years, ICWA has provided a process for determining the best interests of Indian children in the adoption and foster care systems. The tribes are arguing to defend ICWA alongside the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Interior. The case will be reheard on January 22, 2020.

The amicus briefs filed by the following States – Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin – as well as the District of Columbia, can be found here.

The amicus briefs from members of Congress can be found here, and the amicus briefs from leading organizations here.

Amici include organizations and political leaders from across the country spanning the political spectrum, and the U.S. states are represented by attorneys general from both the Republican and Democratic parties. They also include law professors and Native women writing in support of ICWA.

In 2017, individual plaintiffs Chad and Jennifer Brackeen, a couple from Texas, along with the state attorneys general in Texas, Louisiana, and Indiana, sued the U.S. Department of the Interior and its now-former Secretary Ryan Zinke to challenge ICWA. The Morongo, Quinault, Oneida and Cherokee tribes intervened as defendants in the case, and their recent brief can be found here.

On August 9, 2019, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed that the Indian Child Welfare Act is constitutional and serves the best interests of children and families. On October 1, 2019, plaintiffs in Brackeen v. Bernhardt chose to continue their attacks on Indian children and tribal families and requested an en banc rehearing before the Fifth Circuit, which the court granted.

There is broad, bipartisan support against this misguided attack on a law that is crucial for protecting the well-being of Indian children and Indian sovereignty. In addition to states and members of Congress, the Trump administration has strongly defended ICWA and its protections for Indian children, explaining that ICWA is an appropriate exercise of Congress’s authority to legislate in the field of Indian affairs and does not violate the Tenth Amendment or equal protection laws.

For additional information on this case and the Indian Child Welfare Act please visit:

En Banc Petition Materials in St. Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals


En Banc Petition

States Amicus Brief

University of Minnesota Brief

University of New Mexico Amicus Brief

Prior posts here.

Gila River Indian Community Letter to NACDL re: Bryant Amicus Brief


NACDL US v Bryant 04-15-16

An excerpt:

I am writing to you to express the Gila River Indian Community’s concerns regarding the Brief Amici Curiae of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Experienced Tribal Court Litigators in Support of Respondent (“Brief’) recently filed with the Supreme Court of the United States in United States v. Bryant (No. 15-420). The Brief makes numerous attacks on the Community’s criminal justice system, hasty generalizations regarding tribal justice systems, and omits relevant facts and conclusions regarding the Community.

The stated purpose of the Brief is “to draw upon amici’s knowledge and experience with tribal-court criminal litigation to give this Court an informed perspective from which to assess these claims.” Brief at 4 (emphasis added). Unfortunately, the Brief does not do so. Instead, it reads as a narrative and anecdotal attack on tribal justice systems, prominently including the Community. These attacks on the Community’s criminal justice system have often come in a third-party form, such as letters from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and National Association of Federal Defenders to members of Congress regarding proposed legislation. Despite prominent mention of the Community, these letters- and the Brief-were not provided to the Community when sent or filed. We suspect it may have to do with the favorable outcomes to the Community in the cases discussed in the Brief.

Briefs and other materials in this case are here.

United South and Eastern Tribes Amicus Brief in Support of the Tribal Petitioners against NLRB

Here is the USET brief in Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe v. NLRB:

USET Amicus in Support of Tribal Petitions

This one is substantially the same as USET’s brief in the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Tribal Government v. NLRB case.

Ute Mountain Ute & State of Colorado File Joint Amicus Brief in Support of Tribal Cert Petitions in NLRB Cases

Here is the brief:

Final CO-UMUT Amicus Cert Petition – Saginaw Chippewa and LRB

Complete Listing of Amicus Briefs Supporting Respondent in Dollar General v. Mississippi Choctaw



ACLU Amicus Brief 


13-1496 Amici Brief States

13-1496 bsac Historians and Legal Scholars



13-1496 bsac Cherokee Nation et al

These briefs are also available at our regular page of background materials on the case, along with all the other briefs so far.

Ninth Circuit Sitting En Banc Rules in Favor of Big Lagoon Rancheria in Gaming Dispute with California

Here is the opinion in Big Lagoon Rancheria v. State of California:


From the court’s syllabus:

The en banc court affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of a tribe that alleged that the State of California had failed to negotiate in good faith for a gaming compact under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act for Class III gaming on a parcel of land taken into trust for the tribe by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Rejecting California’s argument that the tribe lacked standing to compel it to negotiate in good faith under the IGRA, the en banc court held that the State’s argument amounted to an improper collateral attack on the BIA’s decisions to take the parcel of land into trust and to designate the tribe as a federally recognized Indian tribe. The en banc court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in failing to grant a continuance for additional discovery under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(f).

The en banc court dismissed the tribe’s cross-appeal as moot.

Links to oral argument and briefs here.